A Body of Water by Lee Blessing is a play. I feel I should note from the get go that I have never seen this play performed, but I would love to. I enjoy reading plays because there really is so much that is up to interpretation. The author of a play generally is trying to provoke the actor, costume designer, set designer, or director towards something but it’s up to those individuals to come up with a performance. Which brings up another good point. This was not written to be read by me. This was written to be read by a director and/or producer so that it could ultimately be seen by me. How does this change my experience of the story? Well, I won’t truly know the answer to that question until I get an opportunity to see the play. For now I get to play director, actor, designer, and costumer all by myself in my head as I read, and let me tell you I just put on a pretty spectacular show.
I’ve always been very interested in stories about memory loss and how people define themselves when they no longer know who “themselves” are. The majority of us were too young to remember the beginning of that process. The couple in this play experience it every single morning. Plus they have a young lady feeding them different stories everyday to suit her whims. This was such a rotten scenario that it gave me a bit of a headache. So, I took a moment to think about the different ways in which this could be portrayed on stage. Having parents that forget themselves, each other, and you every single day could wear anyone down to playing petty tricks that you know they won’t remember just to feel you’re getting some sort of revenge. This would be true, if that is what I choose to believe is happening.
If this play were to be produced I could go see it and it would be a completely different story from what I read. Then I could go see it again and, again, it would be a third, completely different story. This is even more true because while there are many questions posed in the play, none are answered definitively. While, generally I find this sort of thing infuriating and I do think it plays a large part in my mid reading headache, I appreciate not only being asked these questions but being given the chance to attempt answering them myself. So often stories end in a neat little satisfying knot, but the characters in this story aren’t living a knot they are living a circle. We consume stories to experience otherness. This play is completely other from anything I’ve ever known.
Common Place Book Entries
“Today I choose not to remember. Today, I seek the relief of oblivion.” -A Body of Water by Lee Blessing